Wednesday, June 07, 2006

I'm so tired....

I'm feeling much better today although I could do without the nagging cough and constant dribble from my nose.

I would like to know why it is that my children, both of them, feel the need to wake up 2, 3, even 4 times a night. It is really driving us insane. Sure they go back to sleep right away but it makes for a very restless night. That coupled with a VERY long day at work makes me a very tired girl. Still, here it is, almost 11pm and I sit here, writing on my blog.

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I feel frustrated tonight with my work. I often feel frustrated after a shift at the hospital. A lot of people have said to me that what I do is important work and that it must be so cool to save lives. While I agree that my work is important, nurses frequently feel unnoticed and unheard. While it can sometimes feel fantastic to save a life, we sometimes are forced to keep people alive that we know will have not have any real quality of life when we do save them. What are we saving these people for? So that they can sit in a wheelchair in their nursing home where no one comes to visit them? Where they probably don't remember their caregivers who care for them on a daily basis? Or for those who we don't even know if they even have any family at all, where their only "family" is a public trustee who has made them a "full code" 3 years ago and hasn't bothered to revisit the patient's code status? Now there is a poor man who I am sure has suffered a lot, who probably won't recognize anyone who he should recognize, clinging to life in an ICU, with a tube in his throat helping him to breath, and more medications than any one person should have running through an IV just to keep his blood pressure high enough to sustain his life. Not one person came to visit this man while he was under my care today and our attempts at finding any family that we could speak with ended with the nurse at the nursing home. There was none. Not such a rewarding day. The sad thing is it happens all the time. I tell everyone I know to let their family know their wishes should the unthinkable happen, because it WILL happen. Will your family know what to do?

We do. Nurses do. Doctors do. Those of us that see this on a daily basis. We see tragedy, upon tragedy in our Emergency. We joke about having DNR tatooed on our chests. Or about stock piling medications so that when the time comes we will have our own choice to make when we can make it. Sure we see wonderful things as well. Sure there are many happy moments as well. The majority of people leave the hospital tired but okay but some don't and I am saddened by the families that have never discussed these topics or the patients that have to die alone. If you are reading this and haven't discussed this with your family, please make sure they understand your wishes. Please.

This isn't a self pity party about what a bad day I had. There were many fine moments of my day. I even laughed today. But patients like this can sometimes weigh heavy on your soul. I never really know what to say when people will say, "Wow, you work in ER? It must be so exciting! You must have some great stories!". The truth is that I DO have some stories but the "stories" that I remember the most, that stay with me and are easy to recall are the ones where someone is usually critically injured or ends with me (and others) having to support a grieving family.

It's just hard. That's all there is to it. Mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually....hard. I don't know how else to explain it. Often, I just want to go to an office, do my job on my computer, not hold people's lives in my hands, and go home. I know that that can be hard too, but I sometimes think it really isn't the same HARD.

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So now I've gone back and reread what I have written and although I feel like taking all the middle part out, I'm not. I feel the need to say those things tonight. I feel the need to let people know what it is really like sometimes.

It's strange reading it all again because I see the dissociation with it and then me tapping into my feelings about today. Often I just push all those feelings down. We have to do that. It's a coping thing I think. Two seperate entities...my home life and my work life. But tonight I'm just so tired...

6 comments:

Heather said...

I can't imagine the emotional roller coaster it is. Yes rewarding when things work out but the sad stories too.

I'm so thankful for people like you though. So unpraised because people I suppose all up tight themselves about what is going to happen so they are not the happiest or most pleasant at the time.

Now I'm really feeling guilty about not visiting my grandfather. I was feeling it before but now I have to make it happen. Will have to chat with dh to see if I can go. It's just a further drive and not fun with the kids.

patti said...

Well said Jen. Well said. Ron and I have talked about this exact scenario many times. We both know what the other wants...but the thought of following through with that really scares me!

Hugs to you for the job you do!!!

Crystal said...

I hear my DD voice these same thoughts, Jen, especially after she's had a hard shift in ICU. I feel for you both. It's good to hear these things because it makes those of us on the outside realize some things we need to take care of, sooner rather than later.

(( HUGS ))), my friend!

Michelle said...

You have a very tough job. It takes a special person to do what you do. I can only imagine the days you have had.

We know exactly what the other wants....we just hope it doesn't have to be that way when the time comes.

Kimmie said...

your message is strong and pure right from the heart, i don't know how you do it, you are a strong woman, i admire your strength and your wisdom about life and death, you handle it with grace and I am so proud to know you!!

Marina said...

Jen, what an incredible blog entry, we don't often think about the morbid things of life and this has really struck a chord with me. Dh and I have casually talked, but nothing as serious as this, and now I know we need to sit down and discuss this all.

On another note, I want to thank you, for being you, for being our Nurse Betty and for being Just Jen. You truly are an amazing woman, in and out of the ER you are needed and we are blessed to have you in our lives.